Oculus Rift Coming In June for $600
Virtual Reality is the next thing in gaming (again) but if you want to be an early adopter, it’s going to cost you a pretty penny. At this week’s Consumer Electronics Show, Oculus VR announced that the retail version of their Rift virtual reality headset will be shipping starting at the end of March. It will only cost you $599 USD before taxes and shipping to be one of the first to get your hands on one.
The Oculus Rift does come with the headset, sensor, Oculus Remote, cables, an Xbox One controller and two VR compatible games (EVE: Valkyrie and Lucky’s Tale).
Not surprisingly, the price has shocked a number of people in the industry as well as prospective consumers who have been frightened away by the $600 price tag. Development kits of the Rift were originally included as a $300 backer reward on Oculus’s Kickstarter campaign. The Development Kit 2, which was the last Rift hardware available for public purchase, was sold for $350. People who backed the Rift for $300 or more in the Kickstarter campaign will get a special Kickstarter edition of the consumer version of the Rift.
The pricing doesn’t include the possibility that your PC may not be powerful enough to handle the Rift. The base graphics cards are the NVIDIA GTX 970 and AMD R9 290 which are each 4 GB cards. I would hazard that alone forces most people to spend $300+ on upgrades in order to run their $600 headset. The minimum spec processor is an Intel i5-4590 which is a quad-core processor clocking in at 3.3 GHz and a 6 MB cache. The RAM minimum is 8 GB which isn’t that bad really. And if you have any spare USB ports, they’re all going to be used up now. The minimum USB ports are three USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 ports.
One of the reasons that the Rift was so hotly anticipated is that Oculus had set consumer expectations in such a way that everyone thought that the Rift would be an affordable headset. For his part, Oculus CEO Palmer Luckey claims that Oculus is “not making money on Rift hardware” at the $600 price.
The high price shouldn’t surprise anyone, though. Sure, it’s higher than many felt they were led to believe. However, if you’re an early adopter, you know that you are going to pay a premium to be an early adopter. That 40-plus-inch 1080p flat panel TV that you paid under $500 for last year would have cost you thousands of dollars when it first came out. Did you buy a PS4 or Xbox One at launch? Did you notice it’s cheaper now than then? It’s the nature of technology that early adopters will pay the price to be first to buy new tech.
Of course, the big problem now is the adoption rate of the Rift and VR in general. At $600, it’s not going to sell like hotcakes. While some games have already been developed and are being develop with VR compatibility, if nobody is buying VR headsets because of the price, will games be developed with VR in mind? And if there’s no one to buy VR games and few are developed, why would people buy hardware if there are no games for it? It creates a cycle that could kill VR from the start.
What will be interesting is seeing how the competition responds. Sony has the Project Morpheus headset that will run with the PS4. The HTC Vive headset may be the closest competitor to the Oculus Rift and has the added advantage of backing from Valve/Steam. A little competition never hurt anyone, especially the consumer.